Quick hits

1) Really enjoyed Emily Bazelon’s NYT piece on pro-life activist, Charmaine Yoest.

2) Enjoyed Micah Cohen’s 538 profile of my home state (i.e., born and raised) of Virginia.  I knew NoVa was rich (I’m from Fairfax County) was rich, but damn:

Northern Virginia has also become more affluent. The top 3 richest countiesin the nation by median income (and 5 of the top 10) are all in the Virginia portion of suburban Washington. Loudoun County is No. 1, followed by Fairfax and Arlington Counties.

Fairfax County — the most populous in the state, with more than a million residents — has been ground zero for the demographic change, Mr. Skelley said. In 1996, Bob Dole edged out Bill Clinton in Fairfax County, and in 2000 George W. Bush beat Al Gore there. By 2008, however, Mr. Obama carried Fairfax County with slightly more than 60 percent of the vote.

3) I find the Flynn effect (IQ’s keep going up– far faster than humans could actually get more intelligent) fascinating.  Here’s the latest on the matter.

4) The original Monkey Cage post is about the power of partisanship in how we view things.  But I think Drum’s take on the power of right-wing media is probably really the key here.

5) Drum had a nice post on this a while back, but here’s the Atlantic’s Robert Wright explaining that when you are up 2 in a poll with a 2 point margin of error, that’s not exactly a “toss-up.”  Just as with the “toss-up” headline I read about today’s Post poll with Obama up 3.

6) Great Tomasky on the coming GOP freak-out.

7) The very significant practical difficulties in actually outlawing abortion but for rape exemptions:

Try it out in the hypothetical. If tomorrow Pennsylvania implemented a state-wide ban on legal abortions that included an exception for rape, how would its politicians, doctors, law enforcement, and abortion clinics effectively enforce it? How will women claim their “rape exception”? Will they have to file the appropriate paperwork with the state and, if so, who will be responsible for approving or denying their abortion request? A woman will probably have to definitively prove she was raped, and verify that she isn’t just lying to cheat the system. And in that case, sexual assaults may be ranked against each other, as the bureaucrat in charge of dispensing legal abortions determines which women’s claims are more valid than others. Perhaps the rapes that appear to have been violent violations of virginal girls will be seen as more tragic, somehow more “legitimate,” while other women may be less likely to be approved for their abortion rights if they were raped at a party where they were drinking alcohol and wearing a skirt. Would Pennsylvania adopt regulations that require rape survivors to report the crime to the authorities within a 72-hour time frame to qualify for their abortion benefits—as one state lawmaker there has actually already proposed?


A nation divided

Sure, we’ll have the exit poll data soon enough, but these cross-tabs from the aggregated last 18 days (i.e., very small margin of error) of the ABC/Washington Post tracking poll are going to tell pretty much the same story.  Nothing all that new here, but interesting nonetheless:

Things I found interesting…  Pretty substantial gender gap as usual.  And as with most recent elections (2008 a notable exception), men and women choosing different presidents.  Quite a dramatic generation gap in the end categories.  Despite all the fuss over Israel, Jews remain a solidly Democratic bloc.    Race– yep.  But what I thought was most interesting was how much white people are divided by education.  The college gap among whites is just as big as the overall gender gap– 9 points.  I’d also love to see that data by state as I expect there are many states where white college grads are majority Obama voters.

And more disenfranchisement

Emily Bazelon also hits the issue.  I expect to see lines like this in a third-world country, not my former home of Columbus, OH:


People wait in line for early voting in the parking lot of the Northland Park Center on Nov. 4, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio

Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.

And, I realized the Cohen piece deserves more extensive excerpting.  This is absolutely no way to run an election in a democracy.  Especially one that likes to hold itself up as an example.  Anybody involved in an electoral process where people have to wait hours and hours to vote should be out of a job and be deeply ashamed.  And any one who supports such shenanigans as a way to help their side win is deeply un-American in the truest sense.  Anyway, more Cohen:

There is no hidden agenda here. The strategy and tactics are as far out in the open as those voters standing in line for hours waiting for their turn to vote. This transparency — of motive and of evidence — is also what distinguishes the complaints that Democrats have about Republican tricks on voting from Republican complaints about Democratic tricks on voting. Widespread “in-person” voter fraud or voting by illegal immigrants exists mostly in the minds of conspiracy theorists. Yet proof of voter suppression is visible to all of us with the naked eye. All we have to do is look. There is no political equivalence here — only more lamentable false equivalence.

Indeed, we are all complicit in a regime which forces our fellow citizens to endure those long lines. We are all to blame for allowing men like Jon Husted to determine which Ohioans will have their ballots counted and which will not. We who have the luxury of voting early by mail or who can pop into a polling station on Election Day, who are accustomed to not standing long for anything — we do nothing about these voter lines even though they are the most visible proof today that America is still terribly divided by race and by class.

In America in 2012, poor people and elderly people and students should not have to wait seven hours to vote. They should not be restricted in this fashion by elected officials who justify the hardships they impart upon black voters by calling those voters “lazy.” By allowing this ugliness to endure, year after year, election after election, we don’t just subvert our own democracy. We preclude ourselves from turning to the world and proclaiming that we respect the value of a single vote and the dignity of a single voter. We don’t practice what we preach.


Via Andrew Cohen:

No matter who wins the presidential race, no matter which party controls Congress, can we at least agree as reasonable adults that when it comes to voting itself the election of 2012 is a national disgrace? We ask our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, to give their lives abroad for noble concepts like “freedom” and “democracy.” And yet we are content as a nation, and as a people, to tolerate another cycle of election rules that require our fellow citizens to sacrifice a measure of basic human dignity simply to exercise their right to vote.

For example, what happened this weekend in Florida is simply unacceptable. According to a local election official interviewed by CBS News’ Phil Hirschkorn, the last “early voter” in line for Saturday’s truncated early voting in Palm Beach County finally got to cast a ballot at 2:30 a.m Sunday morning, which means that voter waited in line for more than seven hours. In Miami, another traditional Democratic stronghold, the wait was said to be nearly as long. On Sunday, voters all over the state were begging judges and county officials for more time to vote.

This is happening not because of a natural disaster or breakdown in machinery. It is happening by partisan design. Alarmed by the strong Democratic turnout in early voting in 2008, Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Scott, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. When the restrictions were challenged in federal court under the Voting Rights Act, a three-judge panel said they would have a discriminatory impact upon minority voters. But only five of the state’s 67 counties are covered by the federal civil rights law.

When the remaining restrictions were challenged in federal court, a George W. Bush appointee said there was no proof that the reduced hours would “impermissibly burden” minority voters. How many hours in line must a Florida voter wait before the burden upon her becomes an “impermissible” one? If Florida’s election officials, and its Republican lawmakers, and its state and federal judges, all were required to stand in line for seven hours to vote those long lines would go away forever. You know it, I know it, and so do those officials.

And again, this is pure asymmetry.  There’s only one party systematically manipulating the powers of government to systematically disenfranchise the other party.  That is an almost pure example of corruption.  Would absolutely love to hear some Republicans speak out against this.  I guarantee you if Democrats were guilty of this, I would be outraged.  Democracy first, damnit!

The Big Picture

Nate Silver has just been writing so much good stuff lately.  I thought this comment during today’s round-up was particularly apt:

If I had told you in January that Mr. Obama’s approval rating would have risen close to 50 percent by November, and that the unemployment rate would have dropped below 8 percent, you likely would have inferred that Mr. Obama was a favorite for re-election, with or without a hurricane and what was judged to be a strong response to it.

This is not to dismiss the effects of the hurricane entirely. But the fact that Mr. Obama’s rebound in the polls has been slow and steady, rather than sudden, would lend weight to some of these other ideas, even if they make for less dramatic narratives.

Photo of the day

Yes, back to Sandy.  Slate puts together a group of photos of some of the worst devastation.  Something particularly compelling about a roller coaster in the ocean:

The roller coaster at the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, NJ on Thursday.

The roller coaster at the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, NJ on Thursday. The boardwalk was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images.


Beating a dead horse

Nate Cohn’s daily summary:

And perhaps most importantly, time is up.

The polls are quite consistent and clear in the battleground states worth 270 electoral votes. With Obama above 49 percent in Nevada, Wisconsin, and Ohio, a wave of undecided voters can’t flip the outcome. At this point, the polls must be wrong for Romney to prevail. The polls have been wrong before and they will be wrong again. The race is close enough for the polls to conceivably get one of those states wrong, but the odds are against it.

Media coverage of the campaign

So much great stuff to chew on in this Pew report.  The item that I’ll definitely be sharing with my students, though, is this:

Obama’s had more positive coverage overall, but that is largely due to horserace coverage and the fact that he’s been ahead in the polls for most of the campaign.  When you get down to policy matters, there’s essentially no difference between the nature of the coverage of Obama and Romney (there’s no N to know whether the 8% is statistically distinct from 12%, but even if it were, substantively, this is a pretty small distinction).  What’s notable is just how negative the coverage is of both policy-wise.  And honestly, given the smoke, mirrors, and hokum involved in Romney’s policies (not that Obama’s perfect mind you, but nonetheless categorically more honest), the fact that they are even so close is more than fair to Romney.

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